Stormy conditions at Humewood Golf Club on Thursday made the perfect setting for round one of the inaugural Sun Boardwalk Golf Challenge, a R600,000 links contest that lasts 54 holes. The morning field had to contend with coastal winds and intermittent rain, but at the close of his first 18 holes Roberto Lupini had come out on top with an opening 68.
Lupini started on the 10th and felt the bite of the course when he took six shots to complete the par-four 13th. He was playing well, but mistakes are paid for at a course like Humewood. Despite making four birdies on his first loop the 31-year-old turned in level-par.
“It was very tough, we were just trying to keep it as low as possible. A couple of the holes on my front nine weren’t so great, but it was a good solid start,” he said.
He needed to eliminate the mistakes in order to make his good form count, and that’s exactly what he managed to do on the front stretch, which has his second nine of the day. The Country Club Johannesburg member birdied the first and set his tiller for success. He ground out four pars and then caught fire with birdies at the sixth and seventh. His birdie at the ninth was the finishing touch to a leading round of 68.
“I birdied the seventh and was able to save a par at the eighth. After that I managed to get a birdie at the ninth, which was very pleasing,” he said. “When you play into the wind it’s very tough, and at holes like the eighth it’s good to make a par. It’s 413 metres long, but I hit driver off the tee box and then had 195 metres to the flag. I tried to hit a low punch five-iron, but left it way short. Luckily I could get it up and down for par.”
Lupini is certainly peaking at the right time. Last week at Vaal de Grace Golf Estate he tied for 15th and prior to that he shared second at the Big Easy Tour Championship.
“I’ve been getting back into my rhythm and that helps me to take it as it comes. It’s a tough course and a good one to play, so hopefully I can keep it going this week,” he said.
Local favourite Titch Moore led the chase after he shot 70 for the first round on Wednesday and was joined on two-under-par by Andrew Curlewis. The pair will look to close down the gap over the coming 36 holes.